Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer that affects thousands of Americans and their families. Each year more than 3,000 cases of this disease are diagnosed in the U.S. While we’ve seen promising developments to help improve the treatment of mesothelioma, there is much more research that needs to be done.

So it is encouraging to hear that U.S.Congresswomen Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME) recently sent a letter asking their fellow members of the U.S. House of Representatives to push the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to intensify its focus on mesothelioma research, according to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.

Congresswomen McCollum and Pingree are considered strong supporters of mesothelioma research. Rep. McCollum’s predecessor in her congressional seat was Bruce Vento, who died of mesothelioma in 2000 only eight months after his diagnosis. Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, a mineral once commonly used in building materials and consumer products due to its strength and ability to resist fire.

In their letter, McCollum and Pingree ask their congressional colleagues to encourage the NCI to create a scientific framework to guide research efforts into mesothelioma.

Under the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act, the NCI is required to examine its research efforts into cancers that have low survival rates and few effective treatment options. Mesothelioma meets this definition. It has a five-year survival rate of 5-10 percent and there is only one FDA-approved treatment for it, according to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.

Currently, there is no cure for mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma advocates hope that the law will result in new clinical trials and improved treatment outcomes for those who suffer from this devastating disease.